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Resources on Shakespeare

Shakespeare's Birthplace Shakespeare Statue Globe Theatre

The scholarship available on Shakespeare is so voluminous it is an industry in itself. The following resources will help you locate specialized tools for Shakespeare research, whether for production, literary analysis, or appreciation. Don't hesitate to consult with a librarian for individualized assistance.

Table of Contents:

  • MLA International Bibliography
    The major research resource for information on English literature, foreign languages and linguistics. Includes references to scholarly articles, books, book chapters, book reviews, and dissertations; coverage dates back to the 1920's.
    1923-present; updated 9 times yearly
Reference Books
  • Dictionary of Shakespeare
    Oxford 1998
    Offers quick definitions of terms, brief discussions of plays and characters, etc. A print version can be found at Ref PR2892.W43 1998.
  • Harvard Concordance to Shakespeare
    Belknap 1973
    Lists words and phrases used in Shakespeare's works and pinpoints where to find them.
    • Location(s): Ref PR2892.S62
  • Narrative and Dramatic Sources of Shakespeare
    Routledge and Keegan Paul 1957-75
    This multi-volume set is essential for finding commentary and primary text on those texts that Shakespeare used as sources. Some volumes are also available in the general collection and can be checked out.
    • Location(s): Ref PR 2952 .B8
  • Oxford English Dictionary
    The Oxford English Dictionary is the ultimate authority on the English language, speech in English, and the usage of words. It provides the meaning, history, and pronunciation of over half a million words and traces their usage through 2.5 million quotations from a wide range of international English language sources. The OED includes words from across the English-speaking world, from North America to Europe, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the Caribbean. It can be useful for finding out how a word's meaning has changed over time - and may help illuminate how a word was understood in Shakespeare's time. A printed version of this dictionary in 20 volumes can be found at Reference PE1625 .O87 1989.
  • William Shakespeare: His World, His Work, His Influence
    Scribner's 1985
    Provides essays that offer context and analysis.
    • Location(s): Ref PR2976.W5354 1985
  • For Historical and Cultural Context
  • Encyclopedia of the Renaissance
    New York: Scribner's 1999
    Covers nearly 1,200 cultural and historical topics relating to Europe from 1350 to the early seventeenth century.
    • Location(s): Ref CB 361 .E52 1999 (6 vols.)
    1350-early 1600s
  • Oxford Dictionary of the Renaissance
    Oxford 2003
    A good place to get quick background on people, places, and concepts.
    • Location(s): Ref CB361.C27 2003
Browsing for Books

Our library shelves books according to the Library of Congress classification system. The following areas may be of interest.

DA 300 English History--Tudor period
GT 700 English costume
PN British drama
2580-2590 Elizabethan period
PR English literature
650 Elizabethan drama
2750-2884 Shakespeare's works
2885-3089 Shakespeare criticism
3090-3100s Performance practice

Note: Some books on Shakespeare are also shelved in the Oversize section.


  • Essential Shakespeare : An Annotated Bibliography of Major Modern Studies.
    G. K. Hall 1993
    This checklist of criticism on Shakespeare seeks to select the most important contributions made in the twentieth century. There are around 1500 entries, all annotated, and there is a good general index to authors, subjects, etc. Browsing through the entries under a given play can provide a quick snapshot of the varieties of critical responses up to the book's publication date.
    • Location(s): Ref PR 2894 .C53 1993
  • Shakespeare: A Study and Research Guide
    University of Kansas 1987
    Though a bit dated, this handbook does a good job of sorting out major trends in criticism and approaches to particular works in the form of bibliographic essays.
    • Location(s): Ref PR 2894 .B44 1987
  • Annual Bibliographies

    Shakespeare Quarterly (online in Project Muse) and Shakespeare Survey (shelved in the regular collection under PR 2888 .C17) both include an annual roundup of new Shakespeare scholarship.

Series and Journals of Note

One of the most important electronic journal collections for Shakespeare research is JSTOR, which includes back issues of Shakespeare Quarterly, PMLA, Renaissance Quarterly, and other important journals. Note, this online collection does not include the most current issues of journals, only back issues.

Oxford Shakespeare Topics - shelved under various call numbers; search the catalog by title of series
Shakespeare Quarterly - current issues available through Project Muse; back issues available through JSTOR
Shakespeare Studies - PR2885.S64
Shakespeare Survey - PR2888.C17


  • Internet Shakespeare Editions
    This site provides annotated versions of Shakespeare's plays along with background material and information about performance of the plays. From the University of Victoria and the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada.
  • Shakespeare in Quarto
    From the British Library, this site offers digital versions of 93 copies of Shakespeare's plays in Quarto published before 1642 that can be compared side-by-side.
  • Shakespeare Searched
    A limited search engine for Shakespeare's plays and poems created with Clusty search software. The search results can be viewed by topic, character, or work.
Photo Credits (L to R)

Shakespeare's Birthplace -
Shakespeare Statue -
Globe Theatre -

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